The latest figures released by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) show that men aged 18 to 34 from ethnic minority groups were twice as likely to be fined for breaching lockdown coronavirus regulations as young White men.
This confirmation of racial disparity is included in a report, “Policing the Pandemic: Detailed analysis on police enforcement of the Public Health Regulations and an assessment on disproportionality across ethnic groups” (PDF) published on 27 July. Although the NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said it was “a concern to see disparity” in a letter sent to Big Brother Watch, he added that “fines were issued to those who, despite officers’ best efforts, refused to follow the rules that we know have saved lives”.
This is a deflection from allegations made repeatedly about racist policing – and as this diary has provided ample evidence of in the last five months, fines were often issued in quite different circumstances to the one Hewitt has suggested. Hewitt also rejects the call for a national review of all FPNs on the basis that the NPCC feels police forces have adopted a “proportionate approach” and fines are scrutinised internally.
The Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, the area that has issued more fixed penalty notices for breaches of coronavirus legislation than any other force in England and Wales, has issued her own report. It confirms that whilst Black and minority communities make up only 3.4% of the population, officers issued 20% of fines to individuals from these communities. It blames outsiders travelling into the area and denies that officers were “particularly targeting BAME” while at the same time stating there is “no definitive explanation as to why BAME feature so significantly”.
Officers from Police Scotland have visited a hairdressing salon in Fife that is refusing to enforce face coverings, as the owner claims he has evidence that coronavirus is a hoax.
Devon and Cornwall’s Police Federation chair claims the coronavirus has ‘weaponised’ spitting at officers.
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick irresponsibly said, “people who are not compliant [with the requirement to wear face masks in shops from Friday] will be shamed into complying.” She told LBC that the Met Police will only enforce people wearing masks in shops “as a last resort”. Big Brother Watch reminded her of the exemptions to the requirement to wear a face mask*, especially for those with disabilities. It’s wrong to encourage bullying behaviour. In Scotland, a lawyer with hidden disabilities was harassed and refused entry to shops without a face mask
*(on public transport, likely also to apply in shops – the new regulations are still unpublished)
The government has published its response to the Home Affairs Committee report from April on Home Office preparedness for Covid-19 (coronavirus): Policing.